Kathleen Gilbert

Family which abused boy now blames gender identity therapy for his suicide decades later

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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LOS ANGELES, California, June 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The family of a man who was violently abused by his father in childhood has blamed a 10-month experimental gender identity therapy in the 1970s for their son’s distress and suicide in 2003.

Both CNN host Anderson Cooper and the prominent gay rights blog Box Turtle Bulletin this week released detailed reports on the story of Kirk Murphy, the five-year-old subject of a government-funded study on gender identity disorder in the early 1970s. The purpose of the therapy was to discourage effeminate behavior in Kirk, who his family says grew up maladjusted and was found hanged in his room in 2003 at the age of 38.

The family has not indicated that Kirk gave a reason for the suicide, but now claims that his therapy sessions at UCLA at the age of five should be blamed for his demise.

Kirk’s mother Kaytee became aware of the possibility of therapy in 1970 through a television broadcast by gender identity expert Dr. Richard Green; she signed Kirk up for it because she had been troubled by his effeminate behavior.

“It bothered me because I wanted Kirk to grow up and have a normal life,” she said. The family was living at the time in Sylmar, a district of Los Angeles.

However, an extensive report by the Box Turtle Bulletin blog’s Jim Burroway revealed that such behavior was not the only source of the family’s concern for Kirk.

Relatives say the family was partially prompted to pursue therapy out of concern for how Kirk’s father, Rod, acted colder towards his younger son than to Mark, the elder brother.

“They said he had to go to UCLA because of his relationship with his dad,” said Kirk’s cousin Donna, according to Burroway. “They said it was Rod’s fault because he didn’t love Kirk enough.”

Gender identity therapists have recognized a lack of affection from one’s father as a risk factor for males developing gender identity disorders.

The family brought Kirk to experimental therapy at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). There, the boy was subjected to a treatment approach focusing on positive reinforcement for desired behavior. The experimental study was guided by and published in part by George Rekers, then a doctoral student who later became a prominent advocate of reparative therapy.

CNN cites a UCLA researcher as confirming that Kirk was the same boy as “Kraig,” the pseudonym of the subject of Dr. George Rekers’ study; also, both Kirk and the subject had an older brother and an infant sister. Nonetheless, several discrepancies emerged between Kirk’s story as remembered by his family and that of “Kraig.” For example, while Kirk’s family denies that Kirk’s effeminism was severe, Rekers wrote that “Kraig” showed “profound” feminine behaviors that were “very alarm[ing]” to his family, including “pronounced feminine mannerisms, gestures, and gait.” Kirks’ mother, Kaytee Murphy, also had no recollection of the six therapy sessions in which the subject’s mother was recorded to have participated in the reinforcement regimen.

The study notes that one reason for pursuing reparative therapy was that, when left untreated, “adult cross-gender problems ... contribute developmentally to difficulties in social relationships, so that by adulthood, the syndrome is frequently accompanied by other serious emotional, social, and economic maladjustments,” including suicide and suicide ideation.

After the sessions finished, the Murphys were instructed to continue encouraging normative behavior on a token reinforcement system, using red and blue poker chips to reinforce both gender-related and other habits. Rekers concluded at a three-year follow-up session that the child’s more masculine habits “have become normalized,” and the therapy was deemed a success.

However, according to the family’s recollections, the reinforcement regimen took an ugly turn when brought back home: instead of the “spanking” advised for Kirk’s misbehavior, according to his children and wife Rod Murphy physically abused his son so violently that Kirk’s sister Maris recalls hiding in her room under pillows to avoid hearing Kirk’s screams. Mark Murphy broke down in tears as he recalled how he would try to save his younger brother from his father’s beatings.

His mother recalled one beating that was “so hard that [Kirk] had welts up and down his back and on his buttocks.”

“Today, it would be abuse,” said Kaytee.

His family detailed how Kirk grew to become nervous, sensitive, and overly withdrawn, and noted that he attempted suicide once when he was 17 before his final attempt years later.

Maris says that for years she had not blamed the therapy for her brother’s suicide, but after learning more about the published study from Dr. Green, and an extended email correspondence with Burroway, began to see things differently. Now mother and siblings alike blame the changes they saw in Kirk on the reparative therapy.

“I blame them [the therapists] for the way his life turned out,” said his mother. “If one person causes another person’s death, I don’t care if it’s 20 or 50 years later, it’s the same as murder in my eyes.”

George Rekers, who was tracked down by CNN, expressed sorrow at Kirk’s suicide, but said linking the event to therapy 30 years prior was tenuous.

“That’s a long time ago, and to hypothesize, you have a hypothesis that positive treatment back in the 1970s has something to do with something happening decades later. That hypothesis would need a lot of scientific investigation to see if it’s valid,” said Rekers, adding that “two independent psychologists with me had evaluated him and said he was better adjusted after treatment, so it wasn’t my opinion.”

One of those therapists, Dr. Larry Ferguson, told CNN that he had not noticed any “red flags” in later evaluations of Kirk. Maris countered that her brother was conditioned to misrepresent himself to the therapists.

“The research has a postscript that needs to be added. That is that Kirk Andrew Murphy was Kraig and he was gay, and he committed suicide,” she concluded.

Gay rights advocates often point to the seminal de-classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1973, and the resulting shift in position by all top medical associations, as proof that homosexuality is an unchangeable trait. However, the debate is far from closed, as prominent studies continue to support the possibility of reparative therapy.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, who is acknowledged as “spearheading” the 1973 change within the APA, asserted that reparative therapy for homosexuality was possible based on the results of a study he conducted in 2001, despite beginning the study as a skeptic.


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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